It’s been more than a year since Jef and Janna Goodnight lost their 10-year-old son, Mason, who died on April 6, 2017. Mason Goodnight was a fourth-grade student at Cumberland Trace Elementary in Bowling Green, Ky., and he enjoyed sports, especially baseball and golf.
Canon Claycomb, a Bowling Green native and one of the country’s top junior golfers, was close with the Goodnight family. Claycomb attended middle school with Mason’s older sister, Maggie, and Claycomb’s younger brother, Cooper, played baseball with Mason.
“I can’t put into words what they felt knowing that their son passed away,” Claycomb said. “I know if I lost my little brother it would devastate me. I knew that I wanted to use my platform in junior golf to make a difference.”
The Mason Goodnight Foundation was created last year to support youth in Bowling Green and surrounding communities. Through the AJGA’s Leadership Links – a program that gives juniors all the tools necessary to donate their time, talent and resources to local charities and the ACE Grant – Claycomb started raising money last fall to help benefit the Goodnight Foundation. He raised about $1,500 but knew he wanted to do more.
Claycomb then texted friend and fellow junior golfer Michael Sanders and asked him for more information on the AJGA’s State Cup Series, a series of junior-led fundraising tournaments. Sanders had run the Carolina Cup for four years.
“I asked him if he could point me in the right direction,” Claycomb said.
Sanders led Claycomb to Beth Dockter at the AJGA. Soon after the Mason Cup was born. The event, one of three State Cup Series tournaments this year, is Aug. 25-26 at Claycomb’s home club, The Club at Olde Stone in Bowling Green and features a 28-player field in a Ryder Cup-style format.
“I think it’s amazing what he’s doing,” Sanders said. “We always had a big goal of extending this to a nationwide thing. It doesn’t have to be part of the Carolina Cup, we just wanted to have more junior golfers impacting different charities and have good effects on youth.”
The inaugural Mason Cup field includes Claycomb, an Alabama commit; Claycomb’s brother, Cooper; Florida commit Clay Merchent; Oklahoma commit Turner Hosch; Duke commit Erica Shepherd and Alabama commit Michaela Morard. Each player is responsible for raising $1,000.
Claycomb and his brother have raised almost $7,000 together. Claycomb also said a $10,000 donation was made by Leachman Buick GMC Cadillac in Bowling Green and that a host hotel has donated rooms to the competitors.
“It’s going to be a lot of really good golfers and we’re going to raise a lot of money,” Claycomb said. “It’s all taken off, and it’s turned into a golf tournament that’s hopefully raising up to $50,000 for Mason’s foundation. It’s going straight back into my hometown, their hometown, little league baseball, football, golf, all types of things. … And I can’t thank Mason’s parents enough. Without them and their support, none of this would be possible.”
Said Jef Goodnight: “Mason had a love and passion for all sports, and his foundation provides kids in our area with scholarships and trips to enjoy experiences, play sports or attend camps. We want to carry on Mason’s legacy through giving back to kids, and the Mason Cup will greatly benefit the community through his foundation.”
To support Claycomb’s efforts, visit ajga.org. Gwk